February 1, 2019
This week, the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) completed a two day coaching workshop in Jordan introducing Baseball5 - a play anywhere street version of the games - to Zaatari as part of its partnership with the organisation Peace and Sport. Zaatari is the world’s largest camp for Syrian refugees, operated by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
The workshop, which ran in one of UNHCR community centres in the camp, taught Baseball5 basics to more than thirty local coaches, teachers and project coordinators working at the camp. It is a low-cost and easily accessible version of baseball developed by WBSC, that is a part of the governing body’s plans for sport-for-development initiatives.
In the coming weeks, coaches will begin introducing the new low-cost and youth-focused discipline to many of the 80,000 refugees living in the densely populated camp, with all of the programme equipment being donated by WBSC. The camp has become Jordan’s fourth largest city and nearly 60% of its population is under the age of 24.
For the first time in the history of the sport activities in the camp, Baseball5 allowed men and women, boys and girls to play together in mixed teams. Through this urban version of baseball-softball, WBSC has leveled the playing field for both genders to enjoy and access the health benefits and social values of team sport together.
During the workshop, WBSC organised a number of exhibition games between coaches on the first day and young refugees on the second. Games were held simultaneously on six fields drawn with white sand from the participants. All the coaches were awarded certificates at the end of the matches and are looking to organize weekly training sessions.
WBSC hopes that Baseball5 will continue in the camp and that it will help to improve everyday life of the Syrian refugees.
WBSC President Riccardo Fraccari said: “Baseball5 has increased WBSC’s ability to harness the power of sport and do good around the world. Baseball5 only needs a ball and a flat surface. It’s low-cost and accessible, and allows us to have a positive impact on communities that can tremendously benefit from access to sport.”
Peace and Sport President and Founder Joel Bouzou said: “It was obvious to us to partner with WBSC and bring Baseball5 to the camp, a simple, cheap and accessible sport that can be easily played by young refugees and create positive social change.”
The urban version of baseball/softball which launched in 2018 has generated immense interest around the globe.